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Josiah King of Judah

34 Josiah was eight years old when he became king. He ruled 31 years in Jerusalem. He did what the Lord said was right. He did good things as his ancestor David had done. Josiah did not stop doing what was right.

In his eighth year as king, Josiah began to obey the God his ancestor David had followed. This was while Josiah was still young. In his twelfth year as king, Josiah began to remove the false gods from Judah and Jerusalem. He destroyed the places for worshiping false gods. He removed the Asherah idols and the wooden and metal idols. The people tore down the altars for the Baal gods as Josiah directed. Then Josiah cut down the incense altars that were above them. He broke up the Asherah idols and the wooden and metal idols. He beat them into powder. Then he sprinkled the powder on the graves of the people who had offered sacrifices to these gods. He burned the bones of their priests on their own altars. So Josiah removed idol worship from Judah and Jerusalem. He did the same for the towns in the areas of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon. He did this all the way to Naphtali. And he did the same for the ruins near these towns. Josiah broke down the altars and Asherah idols. Then he beat the idols into powder. He cut down all the incense altars in all of Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem.

In Josiah’s eighteenth year as king, he made Judah and the Temple pure again. He sent Shaphan son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the city leader and Joah son of Joahaz the recorder. They were to repair the Temple of the Lord, the God of Josiah. These men went to Hilkiah the high priest. They gave him the money the people had given for the Temple of God. The Levite doorkeepers had collected this money from the people of Manasseh, Ephraim and all the Israelites who were left alive. They also collected this money from all the people of Judah, Benjamin and Jerusalem. 10 Then the Levites gave it to the men who directed the work on the Temple of the Lord. And these supervisors paid the workers that rebuilt and repaired the Temple. 11 They gave money to carpenters and builders to buy cut rocks and wood. The wood was used to rebuild the buildings and to make beams for them. The kings of Judah had let the buildings become ruins. 12 The men did their work well. Their supervisors were Jahath, Obadiah, Zechariah and Meshullam. Jahath and Obadiah were Levites from the family of Merari. Zechariah and Meshullam were from the family of Kohath. These Levites were all skilled musicians. 13 They were in charge of the workers who carried things and all the other workers. Some Levites worked as secretaries, officers and doorkeepers.

The Law Is Found

14 The Levites brought out the money that was in the Temple of the Lord. As they were doing this, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Lord’s Teachings. These teachings had been given through Moses. 15 Hilkiah said to Shaphan the royal assistant, “I’ve found the Book of the Teachings. It was in the Temple of the Lord!” He gave it to Shaphan.

16 Then Shaphan took the book to the king and reported to Josiah: “Your officers are doing everything you told them to do. 17 They have paid out the money that was in the Temple of the Lord. They have given it to the supervisors and the workers.” 18 Then Shaphan the royal assistant told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from the book to the king.

19 The king heard the words of the Teachings. Then he tore his clothes to show how upset he was. 20 He gave these orders to Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan. He also gave them to Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan and Asaiah. Shaphan was the royal assistant. And Asaiah was the king’s servant. These were the orders: 21 “Go and ask the Lord about the words in the book that was found. Ask for me and for the people who are left alive in Israel and Judah. The Lord is very angry with us because our ancestors did not obey the Lord’s word. They did not do everything this book says to do.”

22 So Hilkiah and those the king sent with him left. They went to talk to Huldah the prophetess. She was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas. Harhas took care of the king’s clothes. Huldah lived in Jerusalem, in the new area of the city.

23 She said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, 24 ‘This is what the Lord says: I will bring trouble to this place and to the people living here. I will bring all the curses that are written in the book that was read to the king of Judah. 25 The people of Judah have left me. They have burned incense to other gods. They have made me angry by all the bad things they have made. So I will punish them in my anger. My anger will not be stopped.’ 26 Tell the king of Judah who sent you to ask the Lord, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says about the words you heard: 27 You heard my words against this place and its people. And you became sorry for what you had done. You became sorry in my presence. You tore your clothes to show how upset you were. And you cried in my presence. This is why I have heard you, says the Lord. 28 So I will let you die. You will be buried in peace. You won’t see all the trouble that I will bring to this place and the people living here.’”

So they took her message back to the king.

29 Then the king gathered all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem together. 30 He went up to the Temple of the Lord. All the men from Judah and the people from Jerusalem went with him. The priests and the Levites and all the people—from the most important to the least important—went with him. He read to them all the words in the Book of the Agreement. That book was found in the Temple of the Lord. 31 Then the king stood by his pillar. He made an agreement in the presence of the Lord. He agreed to follow the Lord and to obey his commands, rules and laws with his whole being. And he agreed to obey the words of the agreement written in this book. 32 Then Josiah made all the people in Jerusalem and Benjamin promise to accept the agreement. The people of Jerusalem obeyed the agreement of God, the God their ancestors obeyed.

33 And Josiah threw out the hated idols from all the land that belonged to the Israelites. He led everyone in Israel to serve the Lord their God. While Josiah lived, the people obeyed the Lord, the God their ancestors obeyed.

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